Senate leaders have agreed to allow trade preference legislation for Andean countries to move forward. The Senate approved the revised language Thursday by unanimous consent. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, worked to secure shorter benefits for Bolivia and Ecuador than for Colombia and Peru. Grassley says this compromise rewards U.S. allies while giving other countries with some questionable policies a chance to mend their ways.
Colombia and Peru have negotiated trade agreements with the United States. They want a strong trading relationship with the United States and so deserve another full year of trade benefits. Ecuador and Bolivia are getting six months for now, with the opportunity to get another six months if they qualify. The Senator emphasized that they need to understand that preference programs aren't to be taken for granted.
Under the Andean program, the United States unilaterally reduces tariffs on products imported from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. These are the most generous benefits the United States extends unilaterally to any country. Only a handful of countries in the world enjoy them. They are based in part on the cooperation the U.S. receives from its Andean neighbors in the fight against illicit narcotics.